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Old 10-11-2012, 04:13 AM   #1
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Default Wiring Spa Breakout Box... Anyone got pictures?

I purchased a Midwest 50amp GFCI SPA connect panel/breakout box from Home Depot, I'm connecting it to an a 40amp, 4 wire electric range connector BUT... I have no idea how the heck to connect the electric range power plug into the GFCI box to power it. The included instructions are TERRIBLE; terribly small and smeared...

I've done a few random searches and no luck because I need pictures...


Can anyone help a guy out?


Adam

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Old 10-11-2012, 04:27 AM   #2
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:29 PM   #3
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Thanks P-J, I was a bit frustrated after viewing the TERRIBLE instructions on the Home Depot site which focused on how to dig a trench and had lots of nice pictures of people enjoying their SPAs but with instructions as detailed as "connect the neutral wire to the neutral bar, connect the ground to the ground to the ground bar" -Umm... which one is which one again?!? -Your drawings a great and even I can tell how to wire it.

I've since had a look at a number of great threads on here; most with your electrical drawings on them, as above.

A couple of initial questions while I do a bit more research:
1. I read the safety threads and the "catastrophic failure" thread and I now understand why I don't want my spa panel very close to my brewing equipment and why having a GFCI breaker installed in my main breakout panel would be a safer alternative. I know that the spa panels are cheaper but the spa panels actually include a GFCI breaker in them, so, assuming that the spa panel GFCI breaker is GE and my home breaker panel is GFCI then couldn't I just remove the GFCI breaker from the spa panel and put it into my normal home breaker box? (Of course assuming that my original breaker and the spa panel breaker are rated for the same # of amps so I don't burn my house down.) -This just seems like a simple way to get both a box and a breaker for cheaper than most stand-alone breakers AND a safer way to do it...

2. The 50amp electric range cord that will be the "power in" in my breaker box had a metal tension relief cord on it, but it will in no way fit into the holes in my spa panel (Same model as shown above); what should I use as a to better seal the hole around the cord coming into the spa panel and to provide tension relief in case the cable gets yanked /stepped on?

3. I am not going to be able to separate my spa panel physically far away from my brewing setup for at least the next year. Has anyone come across solutions for providing some basic water proofing of the spa panel boxes? (Yes I can silicone caulk any holes but that's not going to prevent liquid from coming in over the top of the breaker box lid.) My SSRs are likely going to be installed into the spa panel box too so just wrapping the whole thing in a plastic garbage bag on brew day isn't really a solution as I need to get rid of the heat produced. (Yes, I know it's not ideal.)

4. Can a single SSR be controlled both by a "manual control" PWM and a PID?
Yes a strange request but here's the background:
I've got a super simple apartment-based electric HLT + Kettle build. (Well not simple, but I want the electric setup to be simple) I have a 40amp circuit from the main breaker to the electric range outlet which is where my spa disconnect comes in. I have one 5500w element in the HLT and one in the Kettle so I can't run both simultaneously off of my 40amp circuit so I plan on powering only the HLT (at full power) while heating the liquor and during mashing (HERMS), and then disconnecting the HLT element and connecting the Kettle element after the sparge... DAMN... I just thought about how much more complicated and time consuming I'm making this by going with 2 5500 watt elements instead of 2 4500 watt elements and being able to run them simultaneously... I think I'm going to see if I can return the elements and swap them out.
Back to the drawing board...

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Old 10-12-2012, 05:13 PM   #4
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Well... There appears to be no such thing as an Extra Low Heat Density 4500 watt element option; nor an incoloy stainless alloy 4500 watt element option so I'm just going to stick with the dual 5500 watt electric elements and I'll power one at a time for now. (In a year I'll be moving and I'll ensure that I have a 50amp circuit that can support running both at the same time.)

So this means I can get by with a single SSR and a single power connector for my current breakout box. -HOWEVER, and this was going to be my original question for P-J and the other power experts out there:

I'd REALLY like this one SSR and power connector to be both PID controlled (simple temp hold feature of the PID controller; full PID is technically overkill for what I'm using it for) AND by a PWM "rheostat-style" dial: Is this possible?

I'd like the PID controller to be used to bring the HLT up to a set temp and then hold it there +/- 1 Degree F or so at the beginning of the brew day. Then I'll reset the temp after mashing is over to bring and hold it at my sparge temp. Once the mash is drained and the liquor has hit my sparge temp I'll disconnect the power lead to the HLT and connect the power lead to the Kettle and this is where I'd like the simplicity of having the PWM "rheostat-style" dial control. -When the kettle comes to a boil I don't want to fiddle around with the PID controller to try and reset the temp and possibly have a boil-over; its way faster to just spin down and up a dial to control the boil. My system will also be supporting both 5 gallon and 10 gallon brews simultaneously so this makes it dead simple to dial down the boil vs. having to stop and think of what percentage of output I need to set the PID to for boiling that particular batch size (while the hot break is foaming and frothing and spitting sugar water everywhere).

So to boil my question down: How can I wire a single SSR so that it can support both (but not simultaneously, obviously) dial control and PID controller control? -Anyone have a diagram for this scenario?

If I understand how the PWM signaling to the SSR works (doubtful) it means that both cannot be connected to the SSR simultaneously and I'm going to need something like an analog switch on the low voltage line to the SSR that switches input between the PWM dial and the PID controller. -Did I come even close to right on this one?


Adam

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Old 10-12-2012, 05:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biertourist View Post
Well... There appears to be no such thing as an Extra Low Heat Density 4500 watt element option; nor an incoloy stainless alloy 4500 watt element option so I'm just going to stick with the dual 5500 watt electric elements and I'll power one at a time for now. (In a year I'll be moving and I'll ensure that I have a 50amp circuit that can support running both at the same time.)
Sure there is. The Camco 02953 is 240v 4500w and ULWD. U=Ultra= <75 watts per square inch of heating element.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:57 PM   #6
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[quote=stlbeer;4493423]

Quote:
Originally Posted by biertourist View Post
Well... There appears to be no such thing as an Extra Low Heat Density 4500 watt element option; nor an incoloy stainless alloy 4500 watt element option so I'm just going to stick with the dual 5500 watt electric elements and I'll power one at a time for now. (In a year I'll be moving and I'll ensure that I have a 50amp circuit that can support running both at the same time.) [/QUOTE}

Sure there is. The Camco 02953 is 240v 4500w and ULWD. U=Ultra= <75 watts per square inch of heating element.

Sorry, my bad. I mean that there's no ULWD foldback only (non-ripple) 4500w element. -I'm connecting my element through a 1.5" triclamp and the ripple element won't fit through the fitting. I need a straight-through ULWD element like what's available from plumbing supply in the 5500 watt capacity.


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Old 10-12-2012, 09:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biertourist View Post
...
I'd REALLY like this one SSR and power connector to be both PID controlled (simple temp hold feature of the PID controller; full PID is technically overkill for what I'm using it for) AND by a PWM "rheostat-style" dial: Is this possible?
...
So to boil my question down: How can I wire a single SSR so that it can support both (but not simultaneously, obviously) dial control and PID controller control? -Anyone have a diagram for this scenario?
...
There is a very easy way to accomplish what you are attempting to do. Simply purchase the Auber Instruments PID SYL-2352 and scrap the idea of using a PWM device. That PID has both temperature control and manual power managment (% of power) built into it. This will make your brewery much easier to build and manage. I already have several diagrams that illustrate such a system. PWM? Not a single one.

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Old 10-13-2012, 12:09 AM   #8
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Of course P-J to the rescue
Always ready to help a fellow electric brewer.

Cheers.

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Old 10-13-2012, 12:29 AM   #9
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I recommend you look at the specs of any gfci "breaker" that you pull out of a spa disconnect box. Many of them may look exactly like a circuit breaker. ie have ampere ratings (terminal ratings) The problem is many of them are just gfci protected disconnect switches. The difference is. A breaker gives you overcurrent protection. (will trip at x number of amps) a disconnect switch doesnt do that. Its just a switch, it needs to be protected in line by a breaker or fuse. Just to be clear. I'm not saying that every "breaker" that comes in a spa box isn't a legitamite overcurrent protection providing circuit breaker, just that some of them are not. You really need to be sure before you go slapping one in a panel... Its for the most part the reason spa boxes are cheaper than a gfci breaker. Its because they are two different things.

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Old 10-16-2012, 05:05 PM   #10
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I've got a follow up question regarding these spa panels. What should the "potential" be between the neutral (white line(s)) and the ground? Should there be zero potential (i.e. a short) between them, or infinite (i.e. open)?

I'm just starting to energize and troubleshoot a Kal clone, and I'm tripping the GFCI as soon as I energize the primary contactor in the box. If this starts to sidetrack this thread, I'll start another, but it seems to belong here, together with the picture and notes that PJ added.

Thanks, Mort
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